Richard Colley: Life Story of a British Gay From the 1920s and 1930s Through Amazing Pics

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These photos from The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography that belonged to an Englishman by the name of Richard Colley, known as ‘Dick’ or ‘Dickie’ to his many friends. Most of photos are dated from 1922 to 1925, some others are dated 1932 and 1933.

Richard Colley enjoyed a privileged lifestyle of holidays, afternoon parties, receptions and costumed balls, interspersed with trips to the races and to the theatre. Many of his friends in the album are unidentified, but it is clear that he knew Dorothy Gish, Gaby Deslys, Harry Pilcer, Beatrice de Bourbon, and the former Queen of Italy.

Richard Colley in strange costumes, circa 1920s

It is possible that he himself enjoyed a brief career as a dancer or in silent films. It is also possible that Colley was not his original surname. Preliminary research suggests that he was born Douglas Colley Best.

A number of different homes appear in the albums, including Richard’s childhood home, The Grange at Canon Pyon in Herefordshire, where his parents still lived. He himself had a flat in London at 107, Queen’s Gate, Kensington. He spent time in the early 1930s at Warren Cottage in Kingston, and he also had a house at Palm Beach in Florida. Many photographs show the exterior and interior of all these homes.

Holidays featured with a man identified only as Russell, clearly his boyfriend. The first trip together was a motor tour of England and Wales. Shortly afterwards they set off together around Europe, visiting the South of France, Monte Carlo and many locations in Italy, travelling as far south as Naples and Capri. The two men also crossed the Atlantic and spent time together in Miami Beach and Hollywood.

Richard and Beatrice de Bourbon

Richard and boyfriend

Richard and boyfriend

Richard and boyfriend

Richard and boyfriend

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